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Huskers-Jackrabbits football game divides Mitchell family

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sports Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
Huskers-Jackrabbits football game divides Mitchell family
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The Hearnen house is a family divided.

Bob, the patriarch of the family, is a 1980 graduate of South Dakota State, while his wife, Janelle, went to the University of South Dakota.

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Their two kids, Kelsey and Cade, are both staunch supporters of their schools. Kelsey graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009 and Cade is a senior at SDSU.

On Saturdays, each member of the family can be seen donning the colors of his or her alma mater.

Ordinarily, there would be no issue, except for the occasional SDSU-USD banter about which is the better state school — a common argument around the state. But with Saturday’s impending matchup between the Cornhuskers and Jackrabbits, tensions between the SDSU men and Kelsey have risen.

“It’s all good-natured fun,” Bob said. “Kelsey is a big-time Husker fan. She has Nebraska everything. She even has Nebraska on her license plates. Cade will be in full Jackrabbit garb, and he will never wear red. But normally when I go down to Lincoln, I wear my SDSU shirt and a Nebraska hat.”

Each member of the family will attend the game Saturday — which will be televised on the Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m. This is the second time the Hearnens, of Mitchell, will make their way to Memorial Stadium to watch the contest, along with a number of fans from the Mitchell area.

The last time the two teams played, which was back in 2010, Nebraska came away with a 17-3 victory.

Bob said prior to the game in 2010, a few of his friends — who are Nebraska fans — kept telling him SDSU would get beat by 50 points. Three years later, Kelsey doesn’t expect it to be a 50-point drubbing but said there is no chance the Huskers will fall to SDSU.

“We are the Nebraska Cornhuskers. We will not lose to South Dakota State,” Kelsey said. “After the game when the Cornhuskers lost last week, I think my brother and my dad have a little more hope than they should have.”

Despite what his sister says, Cade has other visions of how the game will pan out.

“We are going to win,” Cade said. “All of us in Brookings are pumped. This is a great opportunity for the school and the fans to witness a game like this. I know about 50 to 75 kids from my school going, and I will be there with them in the SDSU student section wearing all blue.”

Bob admitted since Kelsey started attending Nebraska that he has become a Nebraska fan. A conundrum that a lot of collegiate athletic fans struggle with in South Dakota.

For this reason, many of the schools alumni love and support their universities but also are fans of programs like Nebraska and Minnesota, which both play in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and are members of the Big Ten.

South Dakota’s two largest universities — SDSU and USD — have spent an abundance of their existence at the NCAA Division II level. In the last 10 years, the schools have moved into Division I level of play and are now eligible for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Moving up the NCAA grid has spawned matchups like the one which will take place Saturday, forcing fans of both schools to choose between the two.

“I like Nebraska, but my heart is in Brookings,” Bob said. “It’s difficult to deal with. You know that if Nebraska gets beat by SDSU, it ruins their chance to go to a BCS game, but SDSU is the underdog and my school, so I have to go with them.”